An examination of how the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPI) will impact on direct marketing and the current legislative framework in South Africa.
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The commercial practice of direct marketing has evolved tremendously with the advent of technology and therefore has both advantages and disadvantages associated with it. It has the advantage of assisting marketers in the running of their businesses by gaining valuable customer support, as well as providing a source of income for those employed by such marketing companies. It also contributes considerably to the economy by fuelling the chain of supply and demand. Direct marketing has an adverse effect when it is unsolicited and thereby intrudes on the privacy of consumers. It is therefore imperative that a balance be struck between the need for direct marketing as a commercial tool and the exploitation of the privacy rights of consumers. At present, the practice of direct marketing is primarily regulated by statute in the form of the Consumer Protection Act, the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act and the newly promulgated Protection of Personal Information Act. As will be discussed, there are various inconsistencies in the legislation which allow for truant direct marketers to circumvent the law. In light of the above, the aim of this dissertation will be to consider the current regulatory framework concerning direct marketing, and will go on to examine the impact that the Protection of Personal Information Act will have on the practice. The analysis will further draw a comparison of the regulation of direct marketing in two foreign jurisdictions, and will finally conclude with suggestions to improve on the regulatory system in South Africa.